Thursday, November 20, 2014

With open hands

There once was a man, very dear to me, who called me Stands with Fist. Stands with Fist is a fictional character, a Lakota woman from the book and the film Dances with Wolves. She was a symbol of defiance and strength. And perhaps I embraced that image and have seen myself as someone who could withstand the blows that life threw at me. (I have written about Stands with Fist briefly on this blog before—at

Perhaps that defiance, that perceived self-reliance, does not serve me well when it comes to relating to God. My strength comes from God; my weakness becomes an asset because it reminds me of my reliance on Him, that His grace is all I need. No need to be strong, no need to clench my fists, just rest in His grace. Probably my most favorite Bible verse, from 2nd Corinthians, is:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I am reading a short Henri Nouwen book entitled, With Open Hands, a guide to prayer. He writes about being comfortable in silence and coming to God in prayer with acceptance and trust. Funny, but in a literal sense, that’s the way I’m most comfortable praying. With open hands, beseeching Him, receiving what He has to say to me. The hands clenched in desperation don’t seem appropriate.

A quote from the Nouwen book:
The wisdom of the world is the wisdom that says: “It is best to stand firm, to get a good grip on what’s yours here and now, and to hold your own against the rest who want to take it away from you; you’ve got to be on your guard against ambush. If you don’t carry a weapon, if you don’t make a fist, and if you don’t scramble to get what you need—food and shelter—then you’re just asking to be threadbare and destitute, and you’ll end up trying to find a mediocre satisfaction in a generosity which no one appreciates. You open your hands and they pound in nails! Smart people keep on their toes, with muscles tense and fists clenched; they squint and are always ready for an unexpected attack.”
So much for the wisdom of the world—let down your guard, unclench your fists and they will pound nails into your hands. Maybe the wisdom of the world doesn’t serve us well. I need to unclench my fists, open my hands and trust God.

No comments:

Post a Comment